On Feb. 15, a stormy Sunday evening in Le Mars, Iowa, Calvin Christian Reformed Church hosted its 15th annual Praise Band Fest, welcoming about 160 people to worship. Three bands, as has become tradition, participated in this year’s event: “All for Him,” from Calvin CRC, “People of Praise” from St. John’s Lutheran Church in Le Mars, and a band from Sioux City, Iowa, led by Jill Miller.
The idea came from a trip to Life Fest, a Christian music festival, in Sioux Falls, S.D. Bruce Smit, a member of Calvin CRC, attended with his family and the church’s youth group. Life Fest was held during the summer, and Smit decided to instead host an event during the winter and invite area churches. He brought the idea to others at Calvin CRC, and in Feb. 2004, the first Praise Band Fest was held.
Smit said he is proud of what Praise Band Fest has become. As a member of the band “All for Him,” he also said he enjoys the opportunity to learn new songs. Each participating band is invited to play 25 minutes of contemporary Christian music. Then the three groups come together to play one final song, usually an audience favorite. The evening concludes with a shared meal.
Miriam Hector, another musician in “All for Him” and a member of Calvin, said this gives everyone a chance to visit. An offering is collected. This year just over $1,600 went to Hope Haven International for their wheelchair ministry.
Hector is a keyboard player and one of the organizers of Praise Band Fest. She said what she loves about the yearly event is “to worship with people from other churches and schools. It will be just like it is in heaven someday.”